How family and friends can help

Here are some practical ways to help support a loved one who has developed facial palsy.


Be there, make time to talk, and be patient. Do not feel you have to rationalise or make sense of things, sometimes all you can do is listen.

Drinking straws

Stock up with straws.  Drinking may be easier with a straw so make sure there are plenty to hand.

Go outdoors

Help you get some fresh air and exercise by accompanying you on some walks.  Natural sunlight and being out of doors is good for our mood.


Help ensure you wear sunglasses if you do go outside even if it isn’t sunny.  In the early days of Bell’s palsy when the affected eye does not close or blink, the affected eye is very vulnerable to damage.  Protecting the eye from sun, wind and dust particles will be essential so sunglasses should be worn whatever the weather.

Eye drops

Help ensure that eye lubrication is always at hand when you go on any outings.

Make easy meals

Prepare meals which are easier to eat.  An easy chew diet is generally recommended in the first instance.  For example, pasta, fish, chicken, or any well-cooked meat and vegetables.

Things to avoid

Avoid mixed consistencies, for example, soup with bits, cereal floating in milk, juice with bits.  This is because having fluids and small solids together are more difficult to control and more likely to go down the wrong way.  Avoid stringy meat and vegetables and those with pips and skins.

Household chores

Help you to get plenty of rest by taking over some of the household chores/cooking.


Help get you to appointments/accompany you to the GP or pharmacy for moral and practical support.

Social situations

Help you to manage social situations.  For example, come up with ways of explaining what has happened so that you aren’t caught off guard.  For example, if someone asks what has happened to your face you could simply say,

“I have Bell’s palsy but I’m getting better.  How are you?”

Check progress 

Take photographs of you so that your recovery is well documented and you can track any signs of recovery or improvement.  Make sure you take the photos under the same lighting conditions and with the same background.  Take photos/videos of you raising your eyebrows, smiling with your lips together, smiling showing your teeth, and whistling, as well as a neutral face.  You don’t necessarily have to look at them yourself but maybe your partner/friend/family member can look out for any encouraging signs.  They will also be useful should you find that your recovery is slower than four weeks and you need to seek further professional guidance.


Be supportive and patient especially in relation to some of the invisible symptoms that can be so intrusive and difficult to deal with.


Do the driving when required, as it is unlikely that you will be able to drive in the early days due to problems with eye closure, eye discomfort and poor blink.

Read more

Reasons to start smiling

The emotional impact of living with facial palsy

Photo by Adi Goldstein on Unsplash